Walking through Nottingham city centre on Saturday it was hard not to admire New Look’s windows.

Carefully put together and with more than a hint of better end Gap about them, they were head turners. The same was true of the covers that had been placed over the security posts at the store entrance, which advertised “Free WiFi Available Instore”.

In-store promise should be capable of being fulfilled on the spot.

John Ryan

In this branch, apparently, it is possible to “Log on or visit our 1st floor Internet Bar for free access.” Temptation indeed and this is a refurbished branch with an interior that bears comparison to the High Wycombe prototype that was unveiled earlier this year. The obvious course of action was to head in and have a look.

All over the shop there were simple line-drawn graphics advertising the different ways in which you can shop the New Look proposition and there was, of course, a Click and Collect area. A trip to the first floor therefore to check out the “Internet Bar”. This actually turned out to be a white, mid-shop table with a few chairs around it and a wall with an incorporated screen that served as a background to this.

Pretty good really and several people were sitting on the chairs waiting for friends and loved ones to emerge from the adjacent fitting rooms or to complete their transactions at the cash desk. The mild wrinkle in this was that nobody was actually using the Internet Bar for its intended purpose. And the reason for this was very straightforward.

There were metal holders attached to the Internet Bar table, intended to provide a secure home for iPads. Yet there were no iPads; not one. There was even a New Look disclaimer with words to the effect that the retailer could not be held responsible for the nature of the sites that might be viewed. No chance of that happening however and the sense of disappointment after the promise of the ground floor was almost palpable.

A good idea had in fact been turned on its head and was working against New Look rather than serving as any kind of value-add. This is a little like being shown a building site and asked to picture how it might look in a few months time - fine if you have a good imagination, but rubbish compared to viewing a show home. It’s also the retail equivalent of running before you can toddle. Perhaps including (or maintaining, if they have been removed) the central element of the Internet Bar might be useful.